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Dharun and Ravi: Two Different Worlds

A modified version of this post appeared in West Windsor & Plainsboro News (Newspaper from Dharun Ravi’s hometown)

The defense in the Rutgers webcam trial began this Friday, March 09, 2012. Dharun Ravi, a college student in New Jersey, has been charged with 15 counts, including invasion of privacy and bias intimidation, for allegedly watching and surreptitiously webcasting his roommate Tyler Clementi’s sexual encounter with an other man. Clementi subsequently jumped off the George Washington bridge to his death. If convicted, Dharun Ravi faces up to ten years in prison and the threat of deportation.

Ravi Pazhani and Dharun Ravi (Image Source:NJ.com)

The defense team presented seven character witnesses who testified that Dharun Ravi never said anything derogatory about gay people or homosexuality. These witnesses – Anil Kappa, Sandeep Sharma, Rajesh Rathinasabapathi, Ramkumar Pandurangan, Girish Warrier, Karthikeyan Arunachalam and Murugan Gnanavel – were all South Asian men, friends and business associates of Dharun’s father Ravi Pazhani.

When the defense lawyer asked the witnesses if they had ever heard Dharun Ravi speak ill of gay people, they all had the same answer: No.

The defense team hoped these seven character witnesses would help prove that Dharun Ravi was not biased against gay people and therefore not guilty of the bias intimidation charges.

Prosecution attorney Julia McClure cross examined these witnesses with a very simple question. “Did the topic of homosexuality ever come up in your discussions with Dharun Ravi?”

All the seven men, again had the same answer: No.

I am a South Asian Indian living in New Jersey. In more ways than one, my background is similar to Ravi Pazhani, Dharun’s father. I grew up in the same state (Tamil Nadu) and speak the same language as Ravi Pazhani. Like Ravi Pazhani, I also work in Information Technology and moved to the United States for work. Coincidentally until last year, I lived in the same town (Plainsboro) as Ravi Pazhani. Interestingly, I also share a similarity with Tyler Clementi. I am gay.

I know I am guessing here, but if Ravi Pazhani, the father, were to testify, his answer would be the same as that of his seven friends. “No. We never discussed homosexuality within our families.” Watching the trial, I couldn’t help but wish Dharun had actually had a chance to talk about homosexuality with his father. I can’t help but wonder if sex and sexuality weren’t a taboo in Indian culture, if Dharun would be sitting in the court room accused of violating his roommate’s privacy?

Ravi Pazhani comes from a country that has a population of more than one billion. A country that gifted the KamaSutra to the rest of the world, but where it is very common for people to act like the word “sex” doesn’t exist. Forget about homosexuality: even heterosexuality is never discussed in living rooms or at dinner tables. Until puberty, Indian kids are told the “god drops baby into mummy’s tummy” story and after that it suddenly becomes a topic that should never be discussed. It is then up to the individuals to figure out human sexuality and its complexities. The birds and the bees conversation rarely happens in the family, except during veiled references by mothers to their daughters who are entering puberty.

Sex is a dirty word that also never gets discussed in schools. I remember, in our Class X biology book, the last lesson was on human reproductive organs. But that lesson was never taught in the class and it was an unspoken agreement between students, teachers and the education department that no questions will be asked from that lesson in board exams. My friend, who came to the US recently to work as a teacher, was completely horrified that she, as a science teacher was expected to teach her students about sex and sexual organs.

So where do children and adolescents in India turn for information on sex and sexuality? Their peers and friends in schools and colleges, who are equally as clueless as them. Growing up as teenager with same-sex attraction, in the 1990s, in a non-metro town in Tamil Nadu, I believed I was the only boy in the entire universe who was attracted to other boys. I did not know the words ‘homosexuality’ or ‘gay’ or its non-derogatory Tamil equivalents until I got access to the Internet in my early twenties. When my friends talked about girls, I thought there was something terribly wrong with me and if I did not become “normal” by a certain age, I was better off killing myself than living with this “disease” of same-sex attraction.

I was twenty eight when I came out to my parents. My parents asked me this: “If you had these feelings since you were a teenager, why didn’t you ever tell us?”

It was such a loaded question! On one hand, they were upset that I had to go through this all alone, but on the other hand they also wanted to verify whether I really had same-sex attraction as a teenager or if it was a more recent phenomenon, a bad western influence (a year before I came out to them I had moved to the UK for my job).

I couldn’t help but break into tears when I heard that question over the phone, from my parents. For years I suffered alone dealing with my sexuality. I had absolutely no support, no help, no one with whom I could talk. It was traumatic! I tried my best to tell my parents but never mustered the courage. In India, as a teenager you can never talk about your attraction, romance or love with your parents or other senior members in the family, even if it was for the opposite sex. Then how on the earth, I could tell my parents that I was attracted to other boys? I didn’t.

Following India’s economic liberalization policies of the early 1990s, there has been increased media-driven circulation of information and discourse on the subject of homosexuality. Many Indians mistake the increasing visibility of homosexuality for an increase in the prevalence of homosexuality itself, and blame the latter on ‘Western influence’. To the contrary, India, before British colonialism, was a sexually liberal country. Homosexuality and transgender behavior have existed for centuries in Indian culture and Hindu mythology, and there is substantial body of scholarship on these topics. Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code that criminalizes same-sex behavior, failing to distinguish between consensual and non-consensual acts, was introduced by Lord Macaulay during the British era. On July 2009, the Delhi High Court, in its historic ruling, read down Section 377, thereby decriminalizing adult consensual homosexual behavior in India. The Supreme Court of India is currently hearing appeals of the Delhi High Court’s judgment. At the hearings, India’s Additional Solicitor General (ASG), P.P. Malhotra, representing the Indian government, told the Supreme Court that he did not doesn’t know any homosexuals. As if the ASG’s statement were not outrageous enough, the health minister of the world’s largest democracy called homosexuality a disease and a Western influence.

I was discussing homophobia among Indians, with a straight Indian coworker of mine, and what she said made sense to me. “See Indians don’t want to talk about sex. We don’t want to deal with it openly. For centuries we managed to sweep it under the carpet and keep it all hush hush. The Naz Foundation case on sec 377 and the discussions about homosexuality, now forces us to confront our unwillingness to talk about sex. We are forced to talk about what is between our legs and how we use it. The ‘God drops baby into mummy’s tummy’ explanation is not enough anymore. We have to admit that sex is not just for procreation, and it it is an expression of love and lust. We don’t want to go there. That is why all these desperate attempts to brand homosexuality as unnatural and a Western influence.”

Indian and other South Asian communities in the US, of which Ravi Pazhani and I are now a part, are largely either ignorant of homosexuality, or homophobic. For many Indians in the US, homosexuality is something that happens only among Americans. Compared to people in India, Indians living abroad also feel additional pressure to follow their ‘culture’. Unfortunately, disliking and condemning Western values, means they cling to their own limited perceptions of what ‘Indian culture’ is. These perceptions are especially strong among those who emigrated from India in the 1970s or earlier, when there was even less discourse around homosexuality in Indian media. In my five years in the United States, I have met a lot of American born Desis (Indian Americans), who find it unbelievable that I and many other young Indians who grew up in India are out to our parents. Some of these Indian-American youth find it more difficult to come out to their parents than some of us who grew up in India do.

I don’t know if Ravi Pazhani, the father, was homophobic, but he grew up in a India that considers sex a taboo subject and associates homosexuality with shame. Dharun, on the other hand, grew up in the United States, a relatively sexually liberal country. Discrimination based on gender identity and sexual orientation have no place in New Jersey’s public schools and universities. The state also has one of the strictest laws in the United States against hate crimes. A bias intimidation conviction can carry up to 10 years in prison in New Jersey.

According to Ian Parker’s report in the New Yorker, Dharun wrote the following to his friend Tam, about his roommate’s sexuality “I still don’t really care, except what my parents are going to say. My dad is going to throw him out the window.” Is this likely to have been true? Was Dharun’s father, Ravi, indeed homophobic? If so, was it because of his ignorance and that he thought homosexuality was a bad Western influence? How much of Dharun’s perceptions of homosexuality arose from needing to conform to his family and cultural expectations, compared to what he actually felt about gay people?

If the father was not homophobic, then why did Dharun assume he was? Was it because, like many other South Asian families, his family ignored topics of sex and sexuality, giving an impression that any sexual act or expression, outside marriage, was an aberration, a condemnable act?

Ravi Pazhani and Dharun Ravi grew up in two different worlds. Sex, sexuality and the politics around them are completely different in these worlds. This is true for many first-generation Americans: their worlds inside and outside their homes are drastically different. If Ravi had acknowledged this difference, and as a parent taken the time to help his son navigate the two worlds, would things have turned out differently? If homosexuality is yet another cultural conflict between Indian-American youth and their parents, what can we do to confront it?

And, back in India, what can we do to make Additional Solicitor General P.P. Malhotra and others of his ilk realize that homosexuality is an intrinsic part of our diverse Indian cultures, and that invisibility and silences do not mean absence?

I have more questions than answers.

Note:  The author hopes to initiate open discussions within the South Asian community on the topics of gender and sexuality. This is not an attempt to pitch Indian conservatism against American openness.

Background: This article refers to Dharun Ravi’s trial in the Tyler Clementi Webcam spying case. For more background on this case, please refer to Vikram’s post and the New Yorker article he cites.

Update: March 16, 2012. Dharun Ravi was found guilty on all major counts in the NJ vs Dharun Ravi case. Dharun was convicted on all 15 counts against him, including four bias intimidation counts, but acquitted on some of the bias charges involving his former roommate, Tyler Clementi, an 18-year-old freshman. Read more at: Dharun Ravi found Guilty on most counts


35 Comments. Add your own »

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  1. I think we need to take into account the Dunning-Kruger effect here. It is the label for the scientific finding that most people are self-delusional. So and think about that; MOST PEOPLE ARE SELF-DELUSIONAL.

    The primary delusion we are concerned with here is the delusion that Indians know Indian culture. Must of what passes for South Asian culture is in fact 19th century English culture. How did the architects of Khajuraho become the prissy little bigots of today? What happened was that Indians fought the Mughals and handed over India to the British (remember the so-called British army that conquered India was a mere 80%Indian – so how is it right to say the BRITISH conquered India? More self-delusion!) And the result was that South Asians acquired all the shame of the Puritans about sex. Now we are so self-delusional we suffer from the hallucination that this is INDIAN culture. Fact is Indians and other south Asians are third-class Europeans in their so-called ‘culture’.

    These are the facts that result in the stigmatisation of gays in South Asia. All the result of our self-delusion: the Dunning-Kruger Effect.

    Look it up!

    1. Very true, Ranjan. It is perplexing to see Indians attacking homosexuality as a “filthy western import”, while trying to defend the real filthy western import, which is Article 377 itself.

  2. Great article Shri and very moving. I wish every parent (including Indian parents) talk about sexuality and its diversity.

  3. Very well written. As one following the articles including the Newyorker one, I see that you have raised doubts similar to one I had. As for us in India, the way is long but the walk is on. It is quite important to make people understand that it is not homosexuality that is foreign to India, but it is homophobia that is the import.

  4. Shri – thank you for the article. It very beautifully and poignantly raises a lot of pertinent points about sex, sexuality and Indian society. As a 28 year old proud gay man, who is still not out to his parents, I am struggling to find the right occasion to tell them. Maybe this article is a starting point. Thanks again! Hope to meet soon!

    1. Aditya honey
      Just remember you are not alone. Hope you find the courage to come out to your parents. Hope your parents love for you triumphs! I am not in your shoes but if I ever had a son or a daughter who told me that they love someone of their own gender, I would never ever for even a second think anything less of them. As long the two love and respect each other, I will always support them.

  5. Apparently during British rule, the rulers were homophobic and the same value which is disgusting the rules became so for the population which was ruled. However, it is, I cannot but feel sorry for Ravi. I am desi and gay and out. My parents were accepting, though my mother was most concerned how the society views us. That made her unhappy. But coming back, it is sorry to see that many Indian parents who live want to live in India they left rather than adapt the country they so desired to emigrate. If culture enables wealth accumulation, then the open and accepting culture of the US is to be embraced. Desire to live in the US due to the fabulous wealth but then scorn the culture as inferior is a trademark of many many Indian in the US. Ravi seems to be a jerk, and perhaps he has to desire to be accepted among his peers. His motivation is probably more to show off to his buddies or peer group rather than harm someone. It will be sad to see him punished for acting on somewhat exaggerated sense of importance.

  6. Shri,
    Thank you for this article.
    Initially when our son said about his sexuality we too felt that only his stay in America would have influenced him badly. After so much of efforts taken by our son and ppl like you through your articles and stories, we are clear now. We support our son but we have our concern about the society in which we live. We want to avoid unnecessary comments. But days are not so far off. I hope that I will be able to support my son happily, openly with proud feelings.


  7. My Best to you. Thank you for your well thought out article. When not in your native land one must adopt some new customs, and make explanations to your children that you might not have found necessary in your home country. Clearly Ravi and Wife did not do this for Dharun. The consequences are very difficult, Dharun had to leave college, is dealing with the justice system, legal expenses and not knowing what is next in a young life. They spent money on many material things for a child but did not give him any sense of kindness and diversity.

  8. Darun was just a teen who was eager to entertain his friends, of course at the expense of humiliating his room-mate— that was the folly!!!. At that age it is easy to make a few mistakes. We all have. I think the forum here has over diagnosed the issue.

    1. Yes and No. It has been proved without a reasonable doubt that Dharun targeted Clementi because of Clementi’s sexual orientation. It wouldn’t have happened if Tyler was straight. This is not just “Kids being kids”. It is important to look at all angles and find out what we all can do to build a tolerant and inclusive society.

      1. Hi,
        I agree with Shri–Dharun’s intent from the start was to target his RM. Whether it was due to deep down hate or some opportunistic curiosity to see man-man ‘thing’ doesn’t matter. At the end of the day, he crossed the line. Would he have liked to be ‘viewed’ when he did with his girl friend? of course not! So to say that it was an immature act is unacceptable and deplorable. May be if it had happened only once, one could say that it was a childish act without much thought but Darun violated his RM’s privacy twice and tried to cover it up–clearly showing it was a planned move. To me this is not a gay issue, though it started as one–but rather not knowing what is right and wrong, not knowing what is moral and acceptable. And I think today’s verdict is appropriate and sends out a loud and clear message to all our young girls and boys of Asian/Indian origin. GROW UP and learn to respect all people!!

  9. there are 2 parts in this.one is legal and other is emotional.legally, invasion of privacy is not a hate crime. there are so many desis killed in US and can be classified as hate crimes but lot of them are never charged as hate crimes.another brown kid got lynched by stupid justice system.if it was white,black or latino they would not even be charged for another person committing suicide. there goes this country down.this is the lowest point for US justice system.

    1. You need to understand the case, before you comment. Dharun is not charged with the suicide. Prosecution was not allowed to even mention the suicide. NJ vs Dharun Ravi case was about invasion of privacy, bias intimidation and tampering with evidence. Also, I don’t believe the jurors were racially biased against Dharun.

      1. Shri, Although “Nothingbutinsane” has not understood the case, I agree with many points raised! I also feel another desi brown kid got punished by our muddied justice! Few desi students have been murdered in college campuses in the past but there is no media coverage! Why media is all over this case, manipulating everything and influencing the public perspectives! Media has created a monster out of Dharun in the last 2 years! Is that not bias???? I feel sorry for him and his family. Dharun and family do not seem to have any community support. Indian community needs a “Al Sharpton”. Things could have been different! What happened is not acceptable! The verdict seem too harsh! Media as usual took a joy ride taking advantage of the sad situation!

  10. What happened here was
    1. Young blood
    2. Free Time
    3. Free of all responsibilities
    4. Paid room
    5. Paid food
    6. Paid updated technology
    7. No deadlines
    8. No rules regarding sleep and study
    9. Unsupervised setting
    If any human being is given all these privileges what do you expect will happen. Empty mind devils workshop. Idle hands are the Devils playthings.
    So let us stop blaming our parents and our country for our mistakes
    and start taking responsibilities for our attitude.
    This is a universal problem which should be dealt with that attitude. There are good and bad people all over the world.
    So guys and gals lets get busy and involve the children too. Sweat will cleanse our body and mind.

    1. Dharun Ravi is one spoilt kid. How else can you explain an immigrant kid being so brave as to use a webcam and take picture of his roommate. Send it out on twitter. Drive a BMW to school. IT is almost like using a smartphone and going to restroom and taking webcam of all the people using the restroom. Would the law allow that?. This is just my opinion.

  11. Thanks everyone for sharing your thoughts. I hope as a community, we take this as an opportunity, look at all angles and find out ways to build a tolerant and inclusive society where nobody is harassed, excluded, intimidated or bullied. This is a wake up call. We can’t keep ignoring discussions on sex and sexuality and treat homosexuality as the pink elephant in the room. It is time to have an open and honest discussion. As many have said, there is no winner in this case. Two young lives are ruined. Let’s not allow this to happen again.

  12. The key issue is that Dharun was offered a plea bargain: 500 hours of community service, no jail time, and that he will not be deported. He refused it and the case went to trial. The judge warned him at that time that he faces considerable “exposure” in this case. So, I do not think there is any racial bias in this case. Every option to escape this fate was offered to Dharun.

    I feel very sorry for Dharun’s parents. They were living the american dream, and Ravi was working with some of the best hedge funds in the world and making a lot of money. Now, he has lost everything.

    What is expected of Indians is to put their heads down and study. What is the need to set up a webcam and do stupid things to a white, gay roommate? Dharun’s problem is that he forgot his father’s humble origins, and he will go back to these origins after 10 years of jailtime.

  13. Quite honestly, I lived in Plainsboro years ago and the Asian community was booming “in”. Sexuality was never discussed and culture continued from the homeland of India. The families I met (and there were plenty) did not expand their cultures to include the liberties of this country. The male children were spoiled and that is what we see here. A spoiled boy who probably did everything his father told him to do. Mom had no say and dad most likely influenced the rejection of the plea bargain. He saw “no wrong” according to his culture and now his son will be jailed. The family lawyer must have been the worst in the world to even let this happen! Money, Money…and fame that is all he probably saw. I think about three years in prison will be the end result..IF Ravi can take it. Certainly won’t be a picnic for this fellow. Should have taken the plea deal. I noticed dad was texting while the verdicts were being read. Not once did he look to his wife or place his hand on his son’s shoulder. Ravi should also be deported. JMO. Why would he want to stay in the US. Convicted of this hate crime he stands no chance of employment ever. And in the Asian culture it is all about dignity and image. I remember one Asian friend in college who did not even know what homosexuality was in the 80’s. I had to explain about Rock Hudson. He thought they had intercourse through the nostrils. Asian families do not talk about sex. It is the big taboo.

  14. wow i would like to share this article with my 14 and 13 year old girl’s …i feel the pain ravi and his wife might be going through ….. as i am also an immigrant not comfortable talking about sex with my kids thats how i was brought up back in india but seeing what is happing with rav’s i need to be more open to my kids….hope and pray for positive outcome for the ravi’s

  15. The article throws light into many areas. I am convinced that in India, being a homosexual may be hard because culturally those ideas are not widely prevalent, however I am not entirely convinced that Indians are homophobic.

    People in USA bully ginger kids. Are those guys “gingerphobic”? Is that equally as bad as homophobic? I am not sure. India’s culture so far had not been as individualistic as in USA. For parents, if their kids do something even slightly different, the parents have to “face the society”. In the same vein, if their kids turn out to be gays, it can stress them. Also, if their kids marry outside their community that could be unacceptable too.

    But that said, culturally, Hindu scriptures dont say that gods will reprimand/punish you for being gay like how bible does. So I think the Indian indifference to gays is less so because you are gay, but more so because you are doing something culturally uncommon!

    Regarding the minister who said that being gay is a disease in India, I dont know if that reflects India as a whole.

  16. Response to UpsetMotehrInPain

    I understand that you are upset. Believe me, I am too. There are no winners in this tragic case. Two young lives ruined. Although I am glad that justice has been served, I feel sentence in this case should be minimal and symbolic. We are not going to get even by ruining Dharun’s life.

    Having said that, I disagree with your opinion that the media was all over this case because the defendant was a Desi brown kid. It is simply not true! Yes, you are right when you say there were other crimes in which Desis were victims and those didn’t get this much media attention. The overwhelming media attention in Tyler Clementi’s case was because it was not an isolated incident. Tyler’s case represented an epidemic of LGBT teen suicide which is still a major issue in this country. In 2010, it was especially worse! I will list few suicides that happened in 2010, just before Tyler ended his life.

    1) Seth Walsh, a 13-year-old in Tehachapi, Calif., died after 10 days on life support after he hanged himself a week before. Police say he had been mercilessly taunted by fellow students over his perceived sexual orientation.
    2) Billy Lucas, 15, hanged himself Sept. 9 at his grandmother’s barn in Indiana after years of reported harassment by students who judged him to be gay.
    3) Asher Brown, a 13-year-old in Harris, Texas, who had recently come out, shot himself in the head Sept. 23 after, his parents say, their efforts to alert school officials to ongoing bullying were not acted upon.

    And many more! This is still happening!

    In all the other cases, there was no one perpetrator identified, but in Tyler’s case Dharun and Molly were identified as the bullies. That is why the media was all over this case, not because Dharun was brown. Lets face it, the Desi community in the US wouldn’t have shown any interest in this case, if Dharun was white. Racism/Reverse racism exists in all communities.

    Being a mother, I hope you can understand the pain and suffering young and innocent kids go through at schools because they are gay or people think they are gay. These vulnerable kids (like Tyler) usually don’t do anything to hurt other people, but they are constant target of bullies. While I appreciate your concern that Dharun shouldn’t be made a scapegoat, he shouldn’t be able to walk away free either.

  17. I thought this brief article provides some good perspectives on this issue:


    This suicide in some ways reminds me of the movie “Prayers for Bobby”, where Bobby’s mother’s lack of support and understanding clearly had a deep influence on his decision to commit suicide. In this case too, Clementi’s mother’s reaction and attitude towards his announcement of being gay must have had a similarly significant bearing on his decision to commit suicide. Yet, that issue could not be explored because Clementi had not recorded his thoughts on it. We can only surmise; but to me it seems pretty obvious. That must have been one of the last thoughts raging through his mind even as he threw himself off the bridge.

    I thought it was foolish of Ravi not to accept a plea bargain earlier, especially when they were ready to consider not deporting him. He should even have welcomed community service as some form of personal atonement for his own unfortunate role–however small he considered it–in this sordid issue, especially because there was a suicide involved. It seems to me that he was poorly guided by his parents and his attorneys. This refusal itself may have adversely influenced the jury in arriving at their strong verdict against him: they may have seen him as unrepentant and as having no regrets for his role in this tragedy.

    1. I just found out (maybe I overlooked it earlier) that Clementi had left a suicide note but that note was not allowed to be made public. Clearly, Clementi had not mentioned Ravi as a cause for his suicide decision in that note: the fact that the contents of the note were not revealed in court makes it clear. One can only guess as to the contents of that note. Maybe Clementi mentioned his dismay at his mother’s reaction to his announcement; maybe he wrote that nobody was responsible for his death; maybe he wrote about his fears of having to live out his life in a callously homophobic world; whatever. It is possible that the note’s contents may have led to reduction in Ravi’s culpability by placing the blame elsewhere–and that the prosecution may not have wanted Ravi to receive that benefit.

      It is easy to conclude that Ravi should have been more farsighted, etc. The unfortunate fact of life is that this is the lot of the young–to generally be unable to perceive the long-term consequences of their actions. As Bernard Shaw had observed, youth is wasted on the young. How many of us have pulled out a chair from behind someone just as they were about to sit down? I read about the case of a student victim of such a prank in the school canteen, who landed hard on the floor on his butt, received severe spinal damage and was significantly paralysed for the rest of his life. For me, instant death would be far more preferable to existing helplessly and dependent on someone for the rest of my life. I wonder what we would have said about the student who played this prank.

      In our younger days, did we ever label someone as “Motu”, “Donne”, “Gundan”, “Fatty”, etc. because they were somewhat chubby? Read about people who have suffered from serious body image issues as adults and even died of anorexia, because they were psychologically scarred by being called such “fat” names in their childhood. But didn’t we do it playfully, with no malice aforethought–and even as a “sign of affection”?

      In our own younger days, did we all perform a full physiological cause-and-effect analysis and medical prognosis of our potential victim’s impending condition before we engaged in such pranks? How deeply did we think about consequences before playing practical jokes on others?

      I look at the way many adults interact with young people and think, was this person ever young himself? Has he already forgotten what it was like to be young and with an immature mind lacking in life experiences?

      All this of course does not change my view that Ravi should have accepted some level of blame and shown remorse by agreeing to do community service in a plea bargain. Maybe he didn’t receive the right guidance from his parents and his attorney. They were all probably too engaged in legal games to pay any attention to personal ethics.

  18. This is a well written article. Yes, it is true that a lot of parents are unable to discuss homosexuality with their kids, Asian or non Asian. It is not an easy topic. Having said that, homosexuality is very much existent right from the days of Mahabharatha. I have always felt that the character of ” Shikhandi” who killed Bhishma is an allusion to this aspect. Modern society has to leave behind biases and move on. What is more important is to respect and accept everyone as they are and integrate homosexuality into modern education so that homosexual individuals are not looked upon as freaks of the society.

    On the one hand, it is wrong to blame this boy alone for being phobic to homosexuals. There are all kinds of conservatives right here in the US who have anti gay views, for example gay marriage is still not legal in all the states…Europe is probably a much more open society.

    What went wrong was that the basic teaching of kindness and respect to people was simply forgotten. Somehow, we should always be cognisant of not hurting anybody with our actions. According to the Hindu belief, conscience starts developing in a human after age 6. We become responsible for right and wrong. We should treat others as we treat ourselves. Compassion and respect to others should be taught at home and in the educational institutuions. As long as we remain righteous in our conduct, the question of this kind of a consequence to action will not arise. The punishment to Ravi is due because somehow he did not think that his action was going to cause
    deep suffering and misery to Clementi…such pain that he took his life….the deeper question that arises is why his conscience permitted this boy to proceed with his actions..what happened to ” right and wrong debate”…was it never ingrained in his mind??

    Shri, I wish you good luck . Yes, unfortunately, it has not been easy for you. Hopefully, your journey will take you to happier shores.

  19. Father Phazani Ravi and the mother failed parenting tasks twice. Once for raising a son that went out and committed crimes against an innocent human by invading his privacy and then by terrorizing him systematically to his death. Yep Dharun Ravi terrorized Tyler Clementi dismantling Tyler’s social support structure and tormenting him off this planet. Secondly Mr. and Mrs Ravi failed again when they allowed their son Dharun Ravi to plead not guilty to invading privacy etc. The facts are clear that even a deaf, dumb and blind person would know that Dharun Ravi did spy, invade, belittle, tease, persecute, torment and in essence terrorized and tortured Tyler Clementi.

    Read about another case of a parent doing right one of many such stories:
    Teenage Texas Bank Robber Turned In By Mom Heads To Prison

    DALLAS (April 9, 2012)—Anthony Blue, 19, of Garland, whose mother identified him to the FBI, was sentenced Monday to almost five years in federal prison after pleading guilty to three counts of bank robbery.

    Blue pleaded guilty in January.

    U.S. Attorney Sarah R. Saldana said U.S. District Judge David C. Godbey sentenced him Monday to four years and 11 months in prison.

    Investigators said Blue held up State Bank of Texas in Garland on June 14, 2011, and then later that day robbed Community Bank in Rockwall, using the same note demanding cash.

    Authorities say Blue robbed American Nation Bank in Quinlan on July 8, 2011, using a different note.

    His mother called the FBI after visiting a website that tracks bank robberies.

    Hope he is sent to a jail here in the us for a good 10 years and that the parents of Tyler Clementi sue him in civil court as well.

  20. Having me going through this issue with my family coming from southern India and me living most of my life in Europe, USA, and now in Australia it has been a tough venture coming out to my family though they have travelled vastly they could never accept or come to terms of me being Gay, or who I am, According to my family its a western influence and nothing to do with culture, what a load of Rubbish, people need tolerance, and open mindedness than to narrow their thoughts towards a designed marriage where they expect everything to go well.
    Despite of me coming out to my entire family I still cope the pressure of an arrange marriage.

    I really wish each and every parent would understand their children in different level so as to know their true feelings and desire to who they are really, rather than who the parents want them to be.

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